TWO current Test batsmen capable of occupying the crease for long periods of time are likely to get much of the spotlight in the four-day SuperSport Series match at the Maritzburg Oval starting tomorrow.
The in-form Hashim Amla (pictured right) returns to the KZN Dolphins side for this important fifth-round match while Ashwell Prince is back in the Western Cape Cobras line-up. Both will be determined to compile big innings at the picturesque PMB Oval in Alexandra Park and there could be few better places for cricket lovers to be over the next four days.
To add to the spectacle, captaining the Cobras side is none other than one of the most devastating batsmen in world cricket, Justin Kemp, who has opted out of the national team at his own request. Kemp is capable of the sort of explosive innings that can turn a match. His ability to play the big shots is invaluable should his team be in sight of victory, as he can hurry the game along like few others.
The absence of Cobras players who might conceivably have been available had it not been for national call-ups to the one-day squad — quick bowler Charl Langeveldt and all-rounder Vernon Philander — will hurt the visitors, but all is not lost.
In former SA fast bowler Monde Zondeki the Cobras have a potential matchwinner and the joint-fourth-placed Cape franchise have the added incentive in that they will be desperate to record their first win of the SuperSport Series season.
And as Dolphins coach Yashin Ebrahim told The Witness yesterday evening, much will depend on the conditions come the first morning. The toss between Dolphins skipper Ahmed Amla and Kemp could be crucial, as it is well documented that the PMB Oval pitch can be a devil to bat on given muggy, cloudy early-morning conditions and a hint of juice on a good length.
Ebrahim said that left-arm paceman Yusuf Abdullah has been given the green light by the medical men as far as recovery from his groin injury is concerned, and he will add a hearty dollop of variety to the Dolphins bowling attack.
Of course, these are just a few of the exciting players who will be on show and it is absolutely vital that the PMB and greater midlands public come out to support the second-placed Dolphins, as this is the only way to convince the authorities that the PMB Oval deserves more top-quality cricket.
KZN Dolphins (from): Doug Watson, Imraan Khan, Hashim Amla, Ahmed Amla (capt), Wayne Madsen, Rivash Gobind, Jonathan Vandiar, Johann Louw, Liam Plunkett, Daryn Smit, Quinton Friend, Saidi Mlongo, Yusuf Abdullah.
Western Cape Cobras (from): Andrew Puttick, Con de Lange, Henry Davids, Ashwell Prince, Justin Kemp (capt), Stiaan van Zyl, Thami Tsolekile, Rory Kleinveldt, Tyron Henderson, Monde Zondeki, Pepler Sandri, Dominic Telo.
•Play starts at 9.30 am and entrance is free.
•Other SS Series matches: Free State/Griquas Eagles vs Eastern Cape Warriors (Bloemfontein); North-East Titans vs Highveld Lions (Centurion).